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Laura (Femmes Fatales) Paperback – October 1, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Vera Caspary (1904-1987) is best known for her skillfully crafted and psychologically complex murder mysteries. Several of her books were made into films, including Laura, Bedelia, and The Man Who Loved His Wife. She was also a playwright and screenwriter, and was an important figure in the radical political causes of her day.
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Product Details

  • Series: Femmes Fatales
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY; 1st Feminist Press Ed edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558615059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558615052
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Written by Vera Caspery in 1943, this mystery romance is sometimes overshadowed by the magnificent film it spawned starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. Otto Preminger's masterpiece is one of the finest mysteries in the history of motion pictures. But that should not detract from its original source. Quite simply, this is one of the greatest novels ever written in the genre. Caspery used an unusal narrative structure to create an atmospheric and involving mystery which has stood the test of time.

The story revolves around Detective Mark McPherson's investigation into the murder of Laura Hunt. McPherson has somewhat of a celebrity status within the department due to some front page cases he has been involved with. But he is unprepared for the high society circles Laura moved in, and Caspery lets us see through his eyes the affectations of the rich. It is a world where people begin their insults with endearing terms like darling, then proceed to use words the roughest seaman wouldn't use to tear you apart.

Laura's benefactor and sometimes companion, Waldo Lydecker, is the poster boy for such behavior. He uses his well known newspaper column to destroy all Laura's would be suitors. Only the man she was set to marry, Shelby Carpenter, was able to withstand the glare of Lydecker's poison pen scrutiny. But on the weekend before she was to be married, a knock on the door late at night, followed by a shotgun blast, cuts her life short.

Waldo Lydecker begins the narration, then McPherson picks up where he left off. It is during McPherson's narration we get to see events as they really are, and we understands his actions. Caspery creates a real atmosphere to scenes between Lydecker and McPherson.
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Format: Paperback
Okay this is embarrassing: I'm a big classic movie buff, and a lover of women's lit circa 1940, and I had never read "Laura". Or known that the film was based on a book. Or that the book was written by a woman. Or that it's spectacular.

Taking a cue from Wilkie Collins "The Woman in White", "Laura" uses the still-unusual multiple-perspective structure, telling a wild murder-mystery story in the voices of alternating characters. Now, if you have never seen "Laura" and somehow do not know the famous story, stop reading this review. Don't read any reviews, don't learn a thing more about it, just buy a copy and dig in. I can't imagine what a pleasure this book would be if you came to it unprepared. What a literary experience! Come back and we'll talk about it later.

Just the people who already know the plot left? Good. "Laura" is still very much worth reading if you've seen the film, and even manages to be suspenseful. Laura herself is a bit more fleshed out; less sultry siren and more coltish young girl. Mark is one of my all-time favorite novel detectives; part everyman, part smart-cookie, all hottie. The dialogue crackles, the characters live and breathe, and the pace is lightning.

While I'm grateful to the Feminist Press for reissuing "Laura" I can't warm to their introduction, which tries to pass off this and other books in the "Women Who Write Pulp" series as more hard-boiled than they really are, and the afterword by A. B. Emrys struck me as kinda stupid. Skip them both if you like and get to Vera Caspary's masterpiece, really one of the greatest detective novels ever written. And let's spread her name around a bit, she deserves it.

GRADE: A
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Format: Paperback
A now-classic film noir was made from this novel - and it's one case where the book and the film are both wonderful, each in a separate way. The novel tells the story of the murder/mistaken identity/love story from the first-person viewpoint of each of three main characters - not exactly the same story, like "Rashomon," but picking up the thread where the previous narrator's re-telling of events left off. This is a terrific character study, well-crafted, beautifully written, that will send you back to the film for even more enjoyment.
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Format: Paperback
I had been on a quest to find this book for 6 years when I found it at my faithful second hand store about 2 years ago. My husband heard the scream I don't remember doing and rushed to my aid. He says (I don't rememeber) I was standing there, clutching the book with a bewildered, enraptured look on my face. He smiled and quietly paid for the book that I was practically knawing on to get through it.

Its not like the movie, which in my oppinion is good. It doesn't diminish the quality of the movie, nor does it take away from its own merrits of suspence and excitement. I loved it. Vera Caspery made the characters more defined, the image of Laura became clearer as did those of Shelby, Mark, and Waldo.

Thanks Honey.
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Format: Paperback
A novel of obsession, Laura is both a successful mystery and intricate character study. Written in 1942, this book gives a very strong portrait of a beautiful and intelligent career woman surrounded by men with varying motivations toward her. The murder takes place on a hot sticky New York summer day. Laura is the victim and as the investigation proceeds we learn why many men have fallen in love with her, including the lead detective, Mark McPherson. As McPherson grapples with the unseemly idea of falling in love with a corpse during an investigation, he virtually moves in to her apartment at night to study her journals and fantasize about her through her portrait on the wall. This is one of the more unusual mysteries I have ever read and I highly recommend it. The famous movie is very faithful to the book and well worth seeing also.
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